Catalan separatists pick new candidate for regional leader

Former Catalan leader proposes candidate for regional government

Catalonia's parliament has failed to elect a regional president by absolute majority, in its fifth attempt to form a new government in the northern Spanish region.

Addressing the Catalan parliament on Saturday, Mr Torra, a staunch supporter of secession, vowed to work towards a Catalan republic and referred to Mr Puigdemont as the legitimate leader of the region.

"We need a really strong government and a really strong country, Catalonia right now faces a monumental challenge", the 55-year-old father-of-three told Catalan television TV3 on Friday. The Spanish judiciary has twice blocked Puigdemont's attempts to face an investiture session from afar, as well as the candidacies of Jordi Turull and Jordi Sànchez, both of who are in prison.

He also warned that under Article 155 of the constitution, which the government used to impose direct rule on Catalonia, "could be used again if necessary", if the next regional leadership did not respect the law.

Catalan politicians must pick a leader to form a government by May 22 to avert further elections, following a stand-off during which separatist politicians put forward candidates who were blocked by the courts for being either overseas or in jail, among them Mr Puigdemont.

Puigdemont proposed Torra as candidate in an address released on his YouTube video channel.


If they decide to abstain, he will scrape through in the second round with a simple majority. The Spanish legal system has charged Puigdemont and other separatist leaders with a range of offenses over their roles in the independence push.

Catalonia has been in political limbo since December a year ago when pro-independence parties won early elections called by the central government.

This will be the fifth attempt to form a government since the last administration was sacked by Madrid almost seven months ago for declaring independence. Torra is a pro-independence lawmaker.

He will be faced with deep divisions in the separatist camp, composed of the CUP, the leftwing ERC party and Puigdemont's Together for Catalonia grouping, he added in a research note.

Torra is a newcomer to politics.

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